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The ins and outs of living in Puerto Rico

Getting Married in Puerto Rico

Our beach wedding gazebo!

Destination weddings are very popular and getting married in Puerto Rico is a nice options for those who want a destination wedding. We actually got married in Puerto Rico, and there are several things that you need to know if you are considering getting married in Puerto Rico. I must admit that some of the things required are pretty…well…dumb, but it’s like packing and getting ready for a vacation, just think of the fun you are going to have and how beautiful it will all be! =)

Having said that…This step by step process I’m about to write will be difficult as some things don’t make a lot of logical sense! LOL

First of all, if you are having a civil wedding (by a Judge), rest assured that Judges are allowed to marry people inside or outside the courthouse, I got married at a beach! The cost will typically range between $150 and $250 for a private party outside of the courthouse. If you were to get married during normal business hours and in the courthouse, there is no fee for the judge. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you start the coordination process months in advance!

Things you will need (for most weddings):

Blood-work: You will need a V.D.R.L. test done within 10 days of your wedding, the results will have to be certified by a doctor in Puerto Rico.

Registro Demografico (Demographic Registry): Locate the nearest “Registro Demografico” and ask for the marriage license  form which they will give you along with a medical certification form for a doctor (physician) to certify the results of your blood-work.

Doctor and blood-work:  Once you have the marriage license form (Form RD-12), take the form along with the results of your V.D.R.L. results to  doctor to certify. You have only 10 days from the blood sample is taken to when the certification must be made. I personally had the blood-work done in the states 2 days before I flew to Puerto Rico. The doctor may charge you for this certification, normally around $20.

Colecturía en el Departamento de Hacienda (Collections office at the Department of Hacienda): You need to buy a “sello” (Stamp) for $20 which you will take back to the Demographic Registry with the certified medical form and the marriage license form.

Registro Demografico (again): Once you get the $20 stamp, have filled out the marriage license form, and the V.D.R.L. results have been certified by the doctor, take them back to a Demographic Registry office within the district where you will get married. They will then take that and seal the medical certification plus give you yet another form, which is the marriage certificate form.

You now have 3 documents, the Marriage license form, the medical certification form, and the marriage certificate form; you will take these to the courthouse or the judge who will be performing the ceremony.

*Note: You will need 2 witnesses over the age of 21 at the time of the wedding.

 Special situations:

-Gay marriages: Puerto Rico now allows same-sex couples to marry.

-People under the age of 21 must bring birth certificate. Their parents or guardians must bring a valid ID with picture.

-Divorced Persons: If either party is divorced, you must bring a certified copy of the divorce certificate or divorce certificates if they have been divorced more than once. If the divorce certificate was issued in any State of the United States, you must bring a certificate issued by an authorized officer or the “County Clerk”.

-Divorced Woman: If you want to get married before 301 days have elapsed since the divorce, you must bring a certificate from a gynecologist certifying whether you are or not in a state of pregnancy.

-Widowers: If either party is widowed, present the corresponding Death Certificate.

-A couple that has a common child or children prior to marriage must bring the child(ren) birth certificate(s).

*Note to divorced persons:

If either party or both were recently divorced, you may not marry within thirty (30) days of notification of the divorce becoming final and binding. The only exception is renounced to the term of 30 days at the time of divorce and a waiver is recorded in the divorce certificate. This exception does not apply when it comes to divorce by mutual consent, then, in that case the 30 day period cannot be waived.

*Note in case that the parties are related:

They can not marry the ascending and descending blood (grandparents and parents, children and grandchildren) and affinity (grandparents and parents, sons and daughters). They can not marry collaterals within the fourth degree (uncles and nephews, cousins).

When the parties are first cousins may marry only if the Court of First Instance signs a waiver with just cause. For this purpose the parties shall file a sworn petition the Court for exempting them from the prohibition.

When cousins have lived together and as a result of that union they have children, or if one or both of them are in imminent danger of death, they may marry without dispensation from the Court of First Instance, giving the facts of the case to the Superior Court of First Instance by affidavit explaining the events.

Special provisions relating to minors:

May marry:

-The men over 18 and women over 16, but are under 21, require parent’s permission.

-All women under 16 and over 14 who have been seduced, with the consent of their parents or guardian, and if they denied it, with the consent of the Superior Court.

-All male under 18 and over 16 who were accused of having seduced a woman over 14 and under 16 years, with the consent of their parents or guardian, and if they deny, with the permission of the Superior Court. It is necessary to prove the prosecution for the crime of seduction through the prosecution or the Sex Crimes Division of the Department of Justice.

-The minors of both sexes between 18 and 20 years of age if it is proved that the woman has been raped or is in a state of pregnancy. In this case, parental consent for marriage is not required. It is necessary to prove the fact of the violation by the prosecution or the Sex Crimes Division of the Department of Justice.

-Persons of 18 years and have been emancipated from their parents, or by order of a court against the will of their parents.

If either party is a foreigner:
The Court will require a document proving their identity. This can be a passport, visa or other document issued by the Immigration Department. In the event that the person is illegally in Puerto Rico, the Court shall contact the Department of Immigration.

Wedding Schedule and Fees:

Weddings in the courthouse are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 pm, to which must be coordinated in advance. There is no fee for the weddings held in the courthouse during the aforementioned hours. If the parties wish to marry outside of the courthouse, it should be coordinated with the judge. In that case the court or judge may charge reasonable fees agreed by the parties.

Sources: Personal experience and the Puerto Rico Judicial Branch www.Tribunalpr.org

 

33 Comments

  1. Hi! If we get married in PR and later move to NJ, can I change my surname for my husbands and how do I do it?

    • Jay-Webmaster

      That depends on the state but you should be able to. In my case all I needed was the marriage certificate, birth certificate from both of us and some paperwork we were given in the courthouse in the US. Then we went to the DMV and the social security offices for the change of surname.

  2. There are no medical exams required in Minnesota (our state of residence)… Do we still need to get one to get married in PR?

  3. I was previously married and divorced in Venezuela over 20 years ago. I don’t have the divorce decree but the “separación de bienes y cuerpos”… Due to the current political situation in Venezuela it is impossible to get the divorce decree. Is the document I currently have enough to get married in PR?

    • Jay-Webmaster

      You should be fine with that. You’ll probably have to sign something that says that you swear that you are not legally married somewhere else bla bla bla, but you should be fine with that. However, if you are getting married at a hotel or through a planner, maybe they can put you in contact with the district courthouse and you can make sure they give you the OK.

  4. If both of us have been married more than twice how many of the divorce decrees do we need to bring?

  5. Hi Jay-Webmaster, we would like to get married in PR on 25th of this month, April, 2017. We both have children from our previous relationships. I was told over the phone that we would need the birth certificates for all of them. Is this the fact?

  6. Gay marriage is legal

  7. I will be in San Juan in Feb and wanted to get married in the courthouse –no event no big ceremony. I see all the paperwork required and am trying to assemble it but so far can get no info on the courthouse rules. I was trying to DIY but do I actually need a planner to run interference with paperwork and appointments? Will we have enough time to do this within a few days in PR or do I need to pre arrange?

    • Jay-Webmaster

      Well, you need to set up an appointment with the judge and all that stuff. The process of getting married here is not particularly simple as you saw on the webpage, you’re going to have to contact the courthouse in the area you want to get married at, for the blood test I recommend you have them done before you leave and have the results either in your online record (which I’m assuming you can access), print them and take to a local doctor for signing. Usually the people in the courthouses who deal with this stuff are pretty knowledgeable of which doctors do that for cheaper. It pays to know that if you have to go inside the courthouse (known locally as “Tribunal”) you will not be allowed to go in if you are not dressed properly, this means no t-shirts,jeans, shorts or even sneakers or flat sandals, when I go there women are always wearing heels and dressed with a nice suit or skirt, and the men are always dressed professionally (FYI).

      Everything can (and actually must) be done in a few days because the validity of the blood test only lasts for 10 days, but you need to know what you have to do and go from one place to the next. I suggest you contact the clerk for the San Juan courthouse (or the district you are getting married in) and ask your local doctor to order a VDRL blood test for marriage purposes, which you should have done no more than 10 days from your wedding date.

  8. Why must we have a blood test if our own state doesn’t require it and one has cancer and the other already knows this and I can’t get pregnant due to Hysterectomy done when I was only 23 and I’m 55

  9. If i were to get married between the age 18-19 and both couple are the same age, would we need parental permission? if we do, does it have to be both parents? Since the other parent has disappeared and i have no consent on the whereabouts of the other parent. What requirements do we need to get married?

  10. My fiancé has 2 children with someone else, but were not married. Do we need to bring anything as far as the children go?

    • Jay-Webmaster

      OMG I’m so sorry I didn’t get to this message earlier!!! =(

      As far as I know you only had to bring the children’s basic info and documents as well as the kids’ mother name and info, etc. Sign the document that specifies that the children are from a previous marriage. It should be the same document that you have to write all of your info for a basic marriage license.

      • can you give me little more details on the document? We need to prepare a document to write down all our info? I’m confused. We are planning on getting married on 4/25. It sounds like there will be lots of running around, preparing for it.. local doctor needs to sign the test result, too.
        When I called the demografia registro, the lady there told me the affidavit mentioning that we have no intention of living in PR, needs to be certified by the attorney, not notary public. Is that the fact?? Please help.

        • Jay-Webmaster

          I’m sorry, which document are you referring to?

          Yes, there will be a lot of running around you’ll have to do and everything needs to be within 10 days of the wedding, including the blood tests. Are you getting married at a hotel or with a planner? They should have direct access with the appropriate courthouse to get all of the documents that need to be filled out. A local doctor does need to certify that the tests are legitimate and not fake and within 10 days of the planned wedding date.

          As far as the attorney signing and not a notary public, I’m not sure what that means because the local law requires a notary to be an attorney. So the notary public is an attorney by default. I guess you can’t bring a document notarized in from the US if the person that notarized it is not also an attorney with a license number.

  11. I’m not sure if there is time to get an answer on this – I’m getting married in Puerto Rico this Friday. The wedding planner has asked me to send her a copy of my birth certificate so she can start the marriage license process. I told her my legal name isn’t my birth name, it is my name from prior marriage. She said the marriage certificate WILL be in my maiden name though. Since all my legal documents, SSA, drivers license, passport, etc is in my prior married name, will the marriage in my maiden name be legal and will that document allow me to change my name legally on passport, drivers license, etc?

    • Jay-Webmaster

      Hello Linnai:

      In the end, it should’t prevent you from updating all those documents such as passport and SSN, driver’s licence, etc. BUT you may (or may not) have to do a little more work. You will likely need to keep all the records and documents that state your maiden name. Always have previous marriage certificate if you have it, birth certificate etc. Again, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue but just in case you have to prove your identity then you can prove with a line of documents of Maiden name and your legal name due to name change after the first marriage.

      The thing is that here in PR, it is not customary to change last names after marriage and if a woman does change the last name it is not usually a legal change but simply a informal adopted casual change, not something you would have on your SSN, Passport, or driver’s license. It does create confusion here because most people don’t know that the name change is actually a legal one and not simply a casual “I call myself” change of last name.

      It really bothers me that things are done like that here but a change in procedure will really mix things up in the demographic registry, so I understand why they do it that way.

      Many women here that changed their last names after marriage have to deal with that often. Things like doctor and hospital records tend to be written with the maiden name even if there is no current legal document of the maiden name.

      Similar thing happens when I go to the states and they see I have 2 last names. You see, here we have the paternal and maternal last names so when I lived in the states I had to always deal with the fact that people confused my maternal last name as my family last name when it wasn’t the case, so I had to often bring 2 forms of ID, especially at airports in the US (never an issue here).

      Side note: A friend of mine went to Disney world shortly after the 9/11 attacks and of course the credit card last name was not exactly like the driver’s license and her husband’s last name, so what happened? After check-in the hotel staff called the police which came in with force and took them out of the room and handcuffed them and they waited in the hallway, that’s parents and kids, while they searched their room! They even brought a dog! So of course nothing was found and the hotel staff apologized and paid for their entire stay for the hardship! Of course this is an extreme case, but it goes to show you that the ignorance of some people can lead to some issues.

      So, to conclude (sorry for the tangent), it shouldn’t be an issue if you can present all the documentation throughout your life, including the previous name change. Always have those documents handy just in case they need proof. You should be ok anyway, but just in case you run into problems, present those and you should be fine then.

      Hope this helps, and Congratulations!

  12. I’m getting married in Puerto Rico on Friday (hopefully). My current legal name is NOT my birth name, but the wedding planner says the marriage license will be in my birth name instead of my legal name (prior marriage name). I need to know this marriage will be legal in the states. How will I be able to get updated drivers license, passport, etc when the marriage certificate isn’t using my current legal name?

  13. I am planning on getting married on Vieques, PR can I get the blood test done in the States?

    • Jay-Webmaster

      Yes you can. But make sure the blood test is done as close to the wedding date as possible. What I did was to have my blood drawn the day before I flew out to PR, then a few days later the results were available online and I printed them and took them to the local doctor for certification and to start the process going with demographic registry and everything else. I believe you have to have your blood drawn within 10 days or so of the wedding date, at least that’s how it was a few years ago.

      Can you get the blood test results online via an online medical record? Check and see if you can do what I did and have the blood drawn the day before you fly out, I’m sure there is a way for you to log into your online medical record and print the results.

      BTW, Vieques is beautiful. I wish you the best of luck and hope you enjoy your time here!

  14. Thank you for all of this, but some of this information is incorrect. For instance, unless you’re a resident of a state that requires it (and only four do), you don’t need a blood test.

    • Jay-Webmaster

      Ashley, thank you for your comment.

      When I got married I lived in the US and had a destination wedding here in PR. I came from a state that does not require a blood test to get married. However, I had to go through everything that PR requires as described by the judicial branch of PR. Please send me an email privately so we can discuss any updates or anything that the public may benefit from.

      Thank You!

      • I am currently planning to marry in PR 1/2/16. I was wondering if there was any new info to share?

        • Jay-Webmaster

          It depends, is this your first marriage or have either one of you been divorced or widowed? Do you have children? Will you get married through a church? Or will it be a judge?

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